Everything about communication and social interactions is emotional. We are either making a concerted effort to elicit an emotional reaction or dealing with the fall-out of an emotional reaction. Knowing how words and actions are actually affecting the emotions of others is incredibly useful. How we measure and quantify emotional feedback is both tricky and highly rewarding.

Listen to “Fascination: Measuring Emotion – Feelings Matter Episode 8” on Spreaker.

Let’s face it- emotions matter. Whether we’re aware of it or not, emotions can play a role in attention, memory, decision making, performance, and our overall mental well-being. But measuring and assessing these emotions is not always straightforward and easy. Given the impact of emotions in our daily lives, and the complexity of measuring them, they’ve become an important aspect in different environments even in ones where we would rather they didn’t such as the workplace. Let’s take a deeper look at what emotions are, why they are significant in various environments, and how we can measure them.

Emotions are mental reactions that describe physical and physiological states influenced by thought and behavior. During the 1970s, the psychologist Paul Eckman identified six basic emotions that he suggested were universally experienced in all human cultures. The six emotions he identified were happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger. These basic emotions later served as precursors for other emotions such as pride, shame, embarrassment, and excitement. Over time, despite the pervasive influence of these theoretical approaches, empirical progress in understanding how reported emotional experiences are organized within a semantic space has been modest. Statistical approaches to testing these theoretical claims have been unable to openly explore how reported emotional experiences are organized within a more general topological space that could simultaneously involve both distinct clusters and gradients of relatedness in response to varied situations. In other words, variation is the norm when it comes to measures of emotion. For example, one person’s surprise could be another person’s anger.

What emotions are and how they can be perceived differently depending on many factors. Since everyone’s emotions can be expressed differently, assessment of facial expression, behavioral and physiological responses have to be considered to assess the experience of emotion; although these may not necessarily be correlated. Scientifically, when your body feels certain emotions, your heart rate may increase like when you’re angry and your body language can change as well. Theoretically, many studies have focused on negative emotions in the workplace, given their ability to disrupt. With this specific environment in mind, it’s important to understand people’s emotion types can differ based on their backgrounds. But how can we know if employees are reporting their feelings accurately? Questions like these are what have led to a unique field of research and exploration into emotion measurement. One type of measurement is facial expression recognition which focuses on the prediction of facial expressions within a short period.

With the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an especially relevant period to solve the problem of measuring emotions. Measuring mental health has become increasingly difficult during this time, emphasizing the importance of evaluating emotions among employees. From the loss of loved ones to isolation, people are experiencing various emotional difficulties. Due to the workplace becoming remote, the lack of face-to-face contact makes it unpredictable to read body language and communicate arising concerns effectively. Emotions can be a difficult topic to discuss, but it’s vital to continue researching effective methods of measuring them to improve people’s mental health levels and avoid emotional disorder setbacks caused by the ongoing global pandemic in an utmost manner.

Cover Photo by Ann H from Pexels

By Shreya Kondapallli,

Writer for Mindful Appy

Hi, I’m Shreya! I am a senior at the University of Florida pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minoring in Computer Sciences.

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